I have fond childhood memories of playing outside on a hot summer day, walking barefoot out to the garden to pick and eat cherry tomatoes fresh off the vine. The experience of that taste is still vivid in my mind, warm and sweet… perfect little treats. Little did I know, most kids don’t have this luxurious snack. Come to find out, everyone doesn’t grow their own tomatoes and most people have no idea what they are missing out on. Having tasted what the grocery stores have to offer, it is clear to me why people may not have an affinity for tomatoes. The store bought versions taste like bland pieces of acidic sponge, a pure night and day difference from the homegrown ones.
Needless to say, I grew up gardening (thanks mom) and I still engage in the therapeutic activity.
Despite living in the “city” (suburb neighborhood track home), I have found plenty of room to grow some tasty organic food. I am excited for my daughter to be old enough to help me in the garden and can’t wait to teach her the ropes. As for now, she sits in her stroller and watches the action (me pulling weeds and fighting snails).
Occasionally someone who is curious about growing food will ask me “What are best veggies to plant?” Great question! When you have limited planting space like I do, it is important to have a plan before you wander through the garden section of the Home Depot filling up your cart with baby plants.
Things to Think About
- First thing to consider is… What do you like to eat? No sense in growing food that you don’t care to eat.
- What tastes great when grown at home and really sub-par when purchased? Exhibit A- tomatoes.
- Is it on the Dirty Dozen list? If so, maybe it is better to grow yourself then purchase. This way you know exactly what the plant’s pesticidal and herbicidal story is.
- What about price? If it’s super expensive in the store, maybe take a crack at growing it yourself and save some dough.
- Lastly… Is it fun to grow? For the kids you can grow things like a pole bean Teepee or your own pumpkins for Halloween. For the adults, maybe grow your own hops for some homebrew or some wine grapes. The point is that gardening is supposed to be fun… we aren’t gardening for survival here.
Here is my favorite song about this topic. Feel free to play it in the background as you read the rest of the post.
Here is a list of my favorite things to grow…
Tomatoes… Taste great and are easy to grow.
Blackberries… You just can’t find good ones at the store. Keep them in a pot or barrel and be careful, they will try to overrun your yard.
Peppers… Jalapeno and Bell, these tend to land on the Dirty Dozen list and it can be hard to find organic jalapenos. They are easy to grow where I live.
Pole Beans… Fun to grow and taste great off the vine.
Okra and Artichokes… Both have good-looking flowers which make them great for front yard gardens.
Fruit Trees… We have Plum, Lemon, and Lime trees. I would like to plant an Apple and Nectarine eventually. Both of those are on the Dirty Dozen list and it’s tough to find nectarines in the store that are worth eating.
Zucchini and Cucumber… Too easy not to grow.
There you have it. Don’t be afraid to start growing some of your own food. Worst case scenario is the plants die and you have to continue buying them from the grocery store. Remember… nothing ventured, nothing gained.